Sunday, May 31, 2015

Savage Worlds - 50 Fathoms - Campaign Kickoff

Summer Gaming

When it came time to chose a new campaign to play with the family this summer, it didn't take me long to settle on 50 Fathoms.  Summer is the busiest time for me at work, and with a vacation scheduled in June and Gen Con preparations in July my time to create something from scratch is limited.  Enter this piratical Savage Worlds gem!  50 Fathoms provides a full plot-point campaign, allowing a game-master and players to take part in a true "open world" tabletop RPG.  

Whereas many adventure-paths are just multi-part quests that take parties from A to Z, an plot-point campaign is more of a web.  Players can choose to take part in a massive, story of good and evil, or leave the path at any time to go trading, treasure hunting, or side-questing.  If you've ever had a chance to play Sid Meier's Pirates! you can expect the very same kind of experience with 50 Fathoms.  

Since the plot-points are a series of mini-adventures, they are perfect for short, quick games on the road, before bedtime, or maybe on a sunny beach in Delaware…

… I smell a future #GetOutAndGame!

We prepared for our 50 Fathoms kickoff by watching Pirates of the Caribbean, both Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, setting up our play area with pirate ships and flags, and donning our most swashbuckling'est of gear!  In a house full of Disney fanatics, and Ren Faire fans, this wasn't hard to do.

Creating Personas

Earlier in the week I gave everyone in my house the opportunity to come up with an exciting character for 50 Fathoms.  Finding something for everyone was not difficult!  Evie wanted to be a spellcasting pirate captain.  Carrie was watching me play Assassins Creed, and wanted a stealthy, seafaring rogue.  My wife, ever on a Disney kick due to her new job as a travel agent, wanted to pay her respects to Pixar, so she picked a clueless, blue aquatic creature.  

My son was a bit of a holdout.  At first he didn't want to play at all, until he overheard me making up characters.  When I mentioned "pirates", he asked if he could be "Foxy", an animatronic, murderous fox from the ever-popular Five Nights at Freddies series.  Not one to argue with a four year old, especially when he seems interested in playing a tabletop role-playing game, I worked out a deal, allowing a clockwork animatronic fox into the seas of Caribdus.  


Our Brave Crew

Captain Jacqueline Crane - Human Elementalist, played by Evie
  • Attributes:  Agility d4,  Smarts d10,  Spirit d6,  Strength d4,  Vigor d6
  • Rank:  Novice (0 xp)
  • Pace:  6,  Parry:  4,  Toughness:  5,  Charisma:  0
  • Edges:  Arcane Background (Elementalist, Air), Power Points, New Power
  • Hindrances:  Wanted (Major), Phobia (Bears), Anemic
  • Skills:  Boating d4, Fighting d4, Knowledge (Arcana) d8, Intimidation d4, Investigation d6, Notice d6, Spellcasting d10, Swimming d4
  • Powers:  Zephyr, Bolt (Wind), Speed, Obscure
  • Weapons:  Rapier
Skylar Shipshape - Masaquani Assassin, played by Carrie
  • Attributes:  Agility d8,  Smarts d6,  Spirit d6,  Strength d6,  Vigor d6
  • Rank:  Novice (0 xp)
  • Pace:  6,  Parry:  5,  Toughness:  6(+1),  Charisma:  0
  • Edges:  Assassin
  • Hindrances:  Curious, Vengeful, Loyal
  • Skills:  Boating d4, Climbing d6, Fighting d6, Lockpicking d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d8, Streetwis d4, Swimming d4, Tracking d4
  • Weapons:  Scimitar, Knife, Flintlock Pistol
Dori - Doreen Hunter, played by Mommy
  • Attributes:  Agility d8,  Smarts d4,  Spirit d6,  Strength d8,  Vigor d6
  • Rank:  Novice (0 xp)
  • Pace:  6,  Parry:  6,  Toughness:  5,  Charisma:  -2
  • Edges:  Dodge
  • Hindrances:  Clueless, Outsider, Illiterate 
  • Skills:  Boating d4, Climbing d6, Fighting d8, Notice d4, Stealth d8, Swimming d8, Throwing d6, Tracking d4
  • Weapons:  2 Knives, 2 Harpoons
Foxy - Clockwork* Pirate, played by Cooper
*Built using the "Construct" race option
  • Attributes:  Agility d8,  Smarts d8,  Spirit d4,  Strength d6,  Vigor d6
  • Rank:  Novice (0 xp)
  • Pace:  8,  Parry:  6,  Toughness:  8(+3),  Charisma:  -2
  • Edges:  Fleet Footed
  • Hindrances:  One-Eye, Mean, Big Mouth
  • Skills:  Repair d8, Swimming d4, Healing d8, Fighting d8, Notice d4, Taunt d8, Climbing d4
  • Weapons:  Axe, Hook

Maiden Voyage, Part 1


The frigate Rebecca had struck an unknown object just off the coast of Torath-ka, tearing a hole in the vessel's hull and causing a lantern to accidentally set fire to the ship.  Captain Jonas Abraham knew there was nothing else he could do for his beloved Rebecca, and ordered the crew to beach the ship.  Once on land, some of the crew started salvaging what they could from the Rebecca while four cremates (Jacqueline, Dori, Skylar, and Foxy) were ordered to hunt for provisions along the beach.  

Torath-ka, also known as the "Savage Land", was a very dangerous place, and so the scouting party was on its guard.  The interior of the massive island was full of Ugaks, the dreaded and primitive "Red Men" who hated all other races and peoples.  Four miles from the wrecked Rebecca, the scouts spotted a broken yet salvageable skiff.  The mechanical Foxy was a skilled carpenter, and could repair the vessel easily, however Jacqueline heard something crashing through the jungle to the south.  Dori readied her harpoon, and prepared for whatever was coming.  

The creature was a vicious Yellowback!  A ten foot long dinosaur (think raptor) the hungry creature didn't realize that Foxy was a clockwork automaton.  The monster charged the machine, despite getting struck by one of Dori's sharp harpoons.  Foxy parried the creature's claws with his hook, and was ready to strike with his trusty axe, when Dori sunk a second harpoon in the beast's hide.  With the dinosaur dead, Dori dragged the body boards the skiff. Perhaps it could be of some use.

It took Foxy nearly four hours to repair the broken floorboards of the skiff, but the large boat was still missing a sail.  Dori took a look at the Yellowback's hide and asked the clockwork pirate to create a "scale sail."  Once Foxy mounted the large flap of leather on the mast, Jacqueline Crane pushed the vessel into the water and called out to her mates.  The elementalist announced that she would be the captain of this new vessel, which the group named the "Titanic Nemo."  Using her Zephyr spell, Captain Crane pushed the skiff through the crashing waves and into open water.  It took less than an hour to return to the Rebecca.

But when the Titanic Nemo arrived at the Rebecca's wreck, the frigate was in flames, and  blood stained the sands.  Furthermore there was no immediate sign of Captain Abraham or the rest of the crew!

Dori, the brave yet absent-minded Doreen hunter, believed that she could track down the crew, and set off into the jungle.  After an hour of marching in circles, however, Skylar the Assassin took over tracking duties.  Another hour marching through the hot and humid jungle   and the party discovered an old but used trail, with some traces of fresh blood on the ground.  Hearing a deeb and foreboding chant in the distance, Skylar quietly moved down the trail, until it came to a clearing… and a truly terrible sight!  

In the large clearing was an ancient shrine, nearly one-hundred feet wide, and two-hundred feet long.  At one end of the moss-covered shrine was a twenty-foot tall statue of a Monkape, and at the center was an "olympic sized swimming pool" of murky red "tar."  Standing around the pool were Ugaks, and the "red men" were standing over the last few crewmen of the Rebecca.  At the base of the Monkape statue a shaman was performing some kind of ritual.  

Fearing for the rest of the crew's fate, Skylar's eyes filled with vengeance and the Assassin disappeared into the jungle.  When she reemerged, she was behind the Monkape temple, scimitar in hand.  The assassin charged the Ugak Shaman from behind, cutting a deep gash that stifled the elder's chant.  But before Skylar could make another cut, the shaman screamed to his minions.

"Ugaka'agaka!  Shagga'na'hagga!" the shaman cried out.

The other Ugak's responded in affirmation.  "Agaka tagu!"  

One of the prisoners was then pushed into the red tar.  The poor prisoner screamed as he was pulled down by some alien god.  Immediately a giant, gorilla-sized Monkape emerged from the pool and jumped into the trees above.  

Skylar looked for the rest of her mates to see what they were doing, and was relieved at their response.  Both Captain Crane and Foxy charged the Ugak Shaman.  

"Too windy today?" Captain Crane smiled as she unleashed a sudden bolt of concentrated storm at the shaman.  Stumbling backwards, the shaman tripped on a loose stone, and tumbled in front of Foxy.  The clockwork pirate was an exceptionally fast runner, and was able to make it to Skylar's side easily.  With a single stroke of his axe, Foxy cleaved the shaman's head from neck.  

While Skylar and Foxy continued to battle the Ugaks, Captain Crane found herself in a "shootout" with the Monkape.  Captain Crane continued to summon focused wind, but had to dodge flying coconuts.  The Monkape could throw the rock-hard coconuts with amazing accuracy, as it leapt from branch to branch.  

After cutting down one of the red men with her knife, gaining "coup", Dori returned to Captain Crane's side and struck the Monkape with a harpoon.  By this point, Skylar and Foxy had finished off several more Ugaks with pistol and axe.  The rest of the red men fled into the forest, leaving just the Monkape.  Not wanting to take the time to reload her pistol, Skylar grabbed her knife and chucked it at the coconut-chucker.  

"We're done here," Skylar Shipshape stated as the Monkape fell dead from a tree.  

There were four crewmen left alive following the dark Ugak ritual.  John Smith was a twenty-four year old Englishman who wanted to get back to sea.  SeƱor Miguel Figuroa, a Spaniard in his fifties, was once a pirate and seemed interested in Captain Crane's future plans.  Skylar Shipshape was excited to see two fellow Masaquani: sixteen year old twins Caras and Cais Cath.  Eager to leave the jungle, Captain Crane commanded her crew back to the Titanic Nemo.  Leaving Torath-ka in the small skiff would be difficult, but perhaps they could gain assistance from somewhere else on the island… 

… to be continued… 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Summer Game-cation

Too Early for a Mid-Life Crisis?

Recently I turned thirty-six years old, and a cruddy truth set in.  I'm okay with my age, and have enjoyed my thirties much more than my twenties.  I'm wiser, healthier, and much more focused on the things that I love best: family, friends, and gaming with family and friends.  I've even found a balance for my technical age of thirty-six, and my mental age of twelve.  

But on my birthday I did some math.  Eighteen years ago I was eighteen, and every birthday going forward means that I've lived more years as a "technical adult" than as a "technical kiddo".  Kind of an emotional buzz-kill.  When I think about it, though, there are only a few things that I really "miss" about being younger.  One of them is true summer vacation!  

Sure, I'll get some vacation time this summer.  I'll spend a week in Delaware with the family and I can't leave out the big trip to Gen Con with my wife in July!  But that's two weeks… TWO WEEKS… out of a three month long summer.  


My Three RPG Groups

Okay, enough lamenting.  The actual point of this post was to share all of the awesome gaming things that I am going to cram into those short vacations… as well as every waking minute of free time that I have available!  As of the start of Summer Game-cation 2015, here's what I have cooking on the role-playing front:
  • The Family - Savage Worlds - 50 Fathoms:  I've wanted to dig into a plot point campaign for a while now, but never gave it a shot.  Since our family hadn't been to the table for an RPG campaign, summer seemed like the perfect time to kick off something new and shiny.  I spent last week reading through the 50 Fathoms Campaign Setting and I'm really excited to share our experiences!  
  • Tuesday Night Cypher Online - Numenera - Rasterperch Keep:  I need to be honest… I'm not sure if the players are going to make it out of this Ravenloft-hack in one piece.  We're now two sessions into the adventure, and already two players have lost multiple emotions through Lady Von Zarro - the Level 10, emotion-leeching pool of ink.  
  • Our Monthly Live Game:  As you may have read, our live table group finished a long Sherlock Holmes/Dark Sun/Star Wars themed adventure in The Strange, and is now between campaigns.  What to run?
We need to choose a new game for our live group, and the Tuesday Cypherians could experience a TPK (total party kill) at any time in Rasterperch Keep.  But I've got a few adventures on deck for both of these options.  You will notice that these are all published adventures/modules, and there is a reason.  Not only is summer as a grown-up less fun, in my line of work the month of July is absolutely BRUTAL!  So my time to write original material is a bit limited.  Here are the best contenders for Next Campaign:

  • The Strange - Heroes of Ardeyn:  I have a lot of old-school, 2nd Edition AD&D adventures that I'd like to run.  But one of my new favorite fantasy "settings" is a "recursion" in The Strange called Ardeyn.  Since the recursion is a Sumerian/Babylonian, sword-and-sandal fantasy world, I can easily use adventures from Al-Qadim, Dark Sun, or other settings to fuel this campaign.  I've already found that hacking AD&D adventures for the Cypher System is a piece of cake.  I've been even more enamored with the idea since reading Ryan Chaddock Games' Ardeyn-themed sourcebook Broken Immersion.  Broken Immersion explores Ardeyn as the world it truly is… an MMORPG turned into a reality through the alien dark matter network known as the Strange.  In this campaign, I'd start the players as natives of Ardeyn, unaware of the existence of other worlds.  
  • Star Wars Edge of the Empire - Debts to Pay:  Our live group had a good time running the Beginners Game of Edge of the Empire, and I'd like to try another module before I'd consider writing my own adventure.  Found in the Gamemaster's Kit, Debts to Pay is a short thirty-page adventure.  Knowing my live group, Debts to Pay would take two to three sessions to finish. 
  • Numenera - The Devil's Spine:  Long-time readers of this blog may remember that started running Monte Cook's The Devil's Spine early in 2014.  If you are interested in where we left off, here's the last play report (session 3).  I'd really like to go back and restart the mega-adventure!  Initially I was going to run this online, but I realized that one of my players was running it themselves.  If I ran this it would have to be with a different group.
  • Savage World - Accursed - The Banshee of Loch Finnere:  I've played Accursed with my children, but really believe that this game would be FANTASTIC with some serious and seriously twisted grown-ups!  A whole group of players as monsters?  Yes please!  The Banshee of Loch Finnere, by Rich Baker, is a twenty page, three part adventure designed for players of Novice Rank… so perfect for a short mini-campaign! As a Savage campaign setting that prides itself as being a cross between Ravenloft, Castlevania, and Van Helsing, Accursed is a blast to play!  

What campaigns are you running this summer?  Are you starting anything new?  Anything crazy?  Let me know!  Please share your experiences for your summer gaming, 2015!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rasterperch Keep - A Numenera/Ravenloft Adventure - Session 2

Return to Rasterperch Keep

After a few weeks off, my players and I were back enjoying Rasterperch Keep.  It sure was a special evening!  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about character death.  Its been quite a long time since I've killed off a serious player character and I don't count the 0-level fodder found in Dungeon Crawl Classics.  Since Rasterperch Keep is a quick, on the spot hack of the original Ravenloft module (with a lot of cosmetic changes), not including real risk would be disingenuous to the evil spirits of the Demiplane of Dread.  So last night I came to the table with an evil glint in my eye…

… mwa ha ha ha!

Sadly I couldn't finish off any player characters last night, but I sure came close for two of them that decided to go off on their own.  I'm surprised Frank, a veteran gamer who has dungeon mastered both the original Ravenloft and the 3.5 Edition remake, didn't warn Andy and Jeremy that it was so dangerous to go off alone…


  • Chase Rombek, a Mystical Nano who Sees Beyond, played by Frank
  • Jak, a Mutant Glaive who Constantly Evolves, played by Craig
  • Glyquorg, an Exiled Jack who Controls Animals, played by Andy
  • Ralyx, Mlox Jack who Throws with Deadly Accuracy, played by Marc
  • Takkorek, Slaker Nano who Entertains, played by Jeremy
  • Garren, Varjellen Glaive who Studies Anatomy, played by Andreas

Non-Player Characters of Note

  • La Dama:  The hive-minded, antlike fortune teller of the Afterlife
  • Lady Von Zaro:  "Sister" to Raa-em


If you missed our last adventure, you can find the summary here.

Chase Rombek had a lot of explaining to do.  Raa-em’s consciousness departed the Mystical Nano’s mind, but no one else in the party had ever suspected that their Chase was a psychic host for an entity formerly known as a sentient patch of moss.  True, Chase had become somewhat distant and detached over the last several months, but most of the random violence he caused was directed against Glyquorg, so it was somewhat excusable.  Still, Chase apologized to his adventuring party, with special attention given to Glyquorg.

While Chase was delivering his apology to the rest of the group he noticed that someone was missing: Takkorek.  The Slacker Nano took part in the battle against Lady Von Zarro, but in the aftermath disappeared from view.  Some of the party members scouted the area for a trail, while Ralyx decided to investigate the nearby trees.  The party was standing in the middle of a deep, coniferous forest, with the canopy protecting everyone from the painfully brilliant light that flooded the nearby fields.  But there was something strangely uniform about the trees that Ralyx found unsettling.  Checking the roots, the Mlox noticed that the trees and the ground were all the same substance, and each tree, at least from the base, was identical.  Ralyx then put his hand against one of the tree trunks, and was surprised when it passed through.  

Casual interest quickly turned to desperate panic as Ralyx realized that he could not withdraw his hand from the tree.  He could move it deeper, but when he pulled back there was no way to free even a millimeter of his skin.  The mlox was trapped!  Fear flooded Ralyx’s mind and he started to scream and shout, blaming the trees for Takkorek’s recent disappearance.  At this point Glyquorg took note of the tree and puled out his water sword.  A blade of liquid water bound in a strange electric field, the water sword was not a solid object.  The Exiled Jack chopped deep into the tree trunk and the entire pine groaned almost as if in pain.  As the tree bent backwards Ralyx felt the grip on his hand loosen.  The Mlox yanked his hand free and took several large steps away.  He would be careful not to make that mistake again, Ralyx thought to himself.  On the bright side, he was able to dig a strange, telepathic cypher from the trunk.  

To help quell some of the party's fear, Chase revealed to the party that Takkorek was nearby, but invisible.  Now that Chase had regained his ability to See Beyond, every spectrum of light was available to his keen, numenera infused eyes.  Chase asked Takkorek why he was out of sight.  Killer trees, brilliant pain, a queen made out of deadly, smoky ink… there were more reasons than not to stay safely hidden away, Takkorek explained

Garren didn’t seem to mind this new locale.  In fact, the Varjellen was delighted at all of the new sensations he was experiencing in the woods.  Scouting the forest floor for strange flora and fauna, the Varjellen Glaive came across a weird bug shell, about the size of La Dama’s carapace covered abdomen.  Picking up the shell, Garren turned it over and saw… something… on the inside that gave him a strange unnatural urge.  Immediately he glared at Glyquorg.  

“That was a very wise choice,” the alien voice of La Dama whispered in his ear.

In an instant Garren doubled over in pain and grabbed his chest.  As a varjellen, Garren was able to open up his chest cavity and manipulate his organs, but it felt as if a new, foreign organ was forming.  Quickly Garren pulled his chest bones apart revealing a small, egg-shaped growth.  The Glaive grabbed for his medical tools and carefully cut the egg from the rest of his visitant flesh.  The egg fell to the ground and started to roll on its own… 

… towards Glyquorg!

Not sure of the rolling, slime covered egg’s motives, Glyquorg started to walk away from the mass.  It continued to follow, weaving around the other party members.  Unsure of what to do, Glyquorg pulled his water blade and put the tip at the egg.  The egg continued to press forward, splitting and revealing a small furry mass within.  Chase, Garren, and Ralyx looked on with interest.  Jak gave a nervous laugh and kept a distance between himself and the Exiled Jack.  Takkorek threw up, while still invisible.  Out of the egg popped a small, cute, familiar Shanu.

It was Lemux!  

Glyquorg squealed with glee as he and his long dead friend were now reunited.  The Jack let Lemux climb up onto his shoulder, as a broad smile graced his long-anguished face.  Best friends forever.  

Not knowing what other threats lurked in the pine forest of this strange pocket universe, the party gathered their gear and started heading west.  From the edge of the forest, Ralyx had been able to see a large monolithic keep to the north, about a half mile away and nestled atop a thousand foot cliff.  Perhaps a path through the forest could lead the party straight into the hills without having to endure the exposure of the brilliant searing light.  Unfortunately the edge of the forest eventually led back south until the group reached a strange barrier.  

“The edge of the map,” Chase quipped.  

Looking back through the tree line Ralyx noticed that there was another pine forest just past a stone-block road, just one-hundred feet away.  The Mlox Jack wanted some shade for the crossing, and prepared to create a pine-branch cover.  All he would need was a pine branch… 

… which he grabbed…

… and quickly found his hand stuck yet again.  

This time Glyquorg was ready to free his friend in an instant.  The Exiled Jack hacked away at the branch, cutting it from the thick trunk.  Once the branch was disconnected from the tree Ralyx’s hand slipped free.  Ralyx continued to create his shade-producing implement, but noted that the strange wood was far lighter than any had encountered in the Steadfast or the Beyond.  It also had an artificial composition, with offshoot from the trunk lacking any sort of ring or organic structure.  With the branches lashed together the Mlox took a deep breath and stepped out onto the road.  The cover did its job, but also helping was the fact that the “sun” seemed to be going down.  With the brilliance subsiding, Ralyx was able to gaze up in the sky and see the source of the light.  Rather than an actual “star” in the sky, the light was emanating from a spectacular orb hovering four-hundred feet above the keep.  Slowly the orb’s glow diminished, until night was upon the party.

Chase Rombek moved alongside his Mlox compatriot and took a look at the keep.  Reaching deep within his mind, the Mystical Nano projected his sight to the top of the keep, thus giving him a clear view of the entire region.  There was a town to the northeast that made for an inviting destination however a strange greenish glow separated the party from that size of the region.  Using his remote viewing Chase noted that the glow was coming from a small river separating the southern forests from the northern.  There was a bridge that spanned this river, but it was located closer to where the “insect powered automatons” had been spotted earlier.  

Takkorek preferred to cross the river using his portal esotery, and convinced the rest of the party to approach the river at a narrow gap just west of the bridge.  Jak and Ralyx approached the river first, but noticed a strange effect from being so close to the waters.  The sound of the trickling waters and soft green glow beneath the rippling surface was so relaxing that it was putting both Jak and Ralyx asleep!  Jak was able to hold off his dozing, but Ralyx sat down on a rock and conked out.  Glyquorg was going to approach and assist, but in his ear he heard a devious voice.

“Not near the water, master!  Not near the water!”  It was Lemux, and the small little animal was speaking to Glyquorg.  Never in the Exiled Jack’s mind had he heard a voice come from his animal companion, and the sound was greatly unsettling.  

Perhaps this wasn’t the “friend” he had remembered.  

It took Takkorek but a moment to create a portal allowing the party to span the waters from a safe distance.  Once on the other side, it was only a ten minute walk to the edge of town.  Takkorek and Glyquorg offered to investigate the small village, and see if any information could be gained about this strange land that rested within a Latos’ head.

The two brave numenera hunters didn’t notice anything strange about the small village at first.  It seemed like just another rustic aldeia that one would find far from civilization in the Beyond.  Entering a local tavern, the pair scanned the room.  Several patrons quaffed mugs of a clear brew while a bartender/line cook prepared meals at the back of the main hall.  Most of the patrons seemed human, however at one table the chairs and table were covered in giant ants… the same that comprised “La Dama”.  Upon closer inspection the humans interacting with the ants didn’t seem to notice that they were not of a human origin, leading the jack and nano to believe some kind of numenera was at work.  

Takkorek approached the bar and asked for a beverage claiming that it was quite warm outside.  For some reason this unnerved the bartender, who began to interrogate the Slacker Nano about the heat.  When Takkorek revealed that the brilliant sunlight earlier in the day had “burned” his skin, the bartender shouted “demons!”  Before the bartender could draw a thin bladed sword the nano was gone, leaving poor Glyquorg standing.  

“Look guys…we didn’t want any trouble,” Glyquorg calmly stated.  

The bartender gritted his teeth.  “Only demons burn here in the Afterlife.” 

Glyquorg wasn’t about to wait for an example of what happens to “demons” here in this pocket universe.  Holding onto Lemux, the Exiled Jack ran into the street.  When he was halfway to the edge of town, Glyquorg thought he heard chanting in the distance, and the ringing of bells.  Immediately the brilliant sunlight returned!  Now smoldering, Glyquorg looked to his right and crashed through the window of a small home.  Quickly he learned that the home was occupied however he still hoped for some solace, hastily hiding beneath a large couch.  

That’s when Lemux started spouting off.  “We’re here!” Lemux chortled.  “We’re underneath the couch!”  

Glyquorg begged Lemux to be quiet, but the shanu simply crawled off of the Jack’s shoulder into view of a middle-aged woman.  The deceiving, rodent-sized cat-monkey pointed to the couch, telling the woman that there was a demon under the couch.  In a panic the woman left the home calling for the guard.  

Now desperate for a new place to hide Glyquorg ran upstairs in the home and grabbed a bedsheet.  Wrapping himself in the covering, the Exiled Jack then left the home through the back, spotting a nearby outhouse.  The sheets helped protect Glyquorg from the “sun”, but when he entered the outhouse his skin was nearly on fire.  Out of breath and tired the jack took ten minutes to catch his breath.

Knock, knock, knock.  The sound was coming from the door.  “Is this privy occupied?” a woman’s voice called.  

“Yes,” exclaimed Glyquorg.

Surprisingly the woman didn’t seem unnerved.  “Do you mind if I join you?”

Glyquorg was stunned.  He didn’t know what to say, but simply managed “Why not?”

Big mistake.

Quickly the outhouse filled with darkness, and the woman’s voice became dark and ominous.  It was the Lady Von Zarro, and she explained to poor Glyquorg that she was hungry.  Oh so very hungry.  The Exiled Jack was able to dodge the first inky black tentacle in an amazing feat of dexterity, but the second wrapped around his face, draining Glyquorg of all anger.  Fear quickly set in, and the jack ran outside, into the courtyard, caught fire, and then made his way into the basement of the nearby home.  

Takkorek was having an easier time.  While invisible, the Slacker Nano watched as the humans formed a lynch mob and set out for the “demons”.  Everyone left the tavern except the ants.  They remained behind at their table.  Takkorek went to the back of the establishment and tried some of the food and drink.  It was plain tasting and strange, although it satisfied his hunger.  When he returned to the front of the tavern the ants were gone.

And then the night returned.  

Somehow Glyquorg recalled the words of the “chant” he had heard while running down the road.  Repeating the same chant seemed to engage the “day/night” cycle.  Under the cover of darkness the Exiled Jack made his way out of the home and towards the forest and his friends.

Takkorek left the tavern at the same time, but instead of running to the forest he ran to a temple in the north.  Nearly there, the nano heard the chant again and it was suddenly daylight.  In pain from the brilliant “sun”, Takkorek was close enough to the church to create a portal, and even managed to slip through.  Takkorek was in the temple for but a moment before an inky black wisp wrapped around his waist, dragging him back out of the temple and into the open.  

Lady Von Zarro was now overtop of the poor Slacker Nano, and using her tendrils was feeding on Takkorek’s emotions.  Takkorek tried to bargain with the Lady, and asked why she didn’t just feed on the villagers.

“I cannot feed on the dead, only the living,” she said softly.  After taking her fill, the Lady scooped up the exhausted Takkorek and carried him into the woods.  “I’ll be back for more later, but you have been delicious.” 

“You don’t have to come back,” managed Takkorek, before dragging himself south to the rest of the team.  


"Well the first thing I'm going to do is apologize to Andy's character for blowing him up a bunch of times…" - Frank gave contrition a shot, but I think he'll need to continue apologizing for a few more games.  

"No, no!  I swear!  I was possessed by moss!" - Marc mocking Frank's apology.

"I'm pretty sure they don't come from varjellen chests." - Craig was grossed out by Garren's chest baby.

"Uh… not again!" - Ralyx grabs a tree branch.

Andy - "I don't understand the animosity against my dead/undead friend."
Jeremy - "Your varjellen chest baby?"

"Show him your monkey!" - Frank said this… I can't remember when… but wow it was great.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

#GetOutAndGame - Savage Worlds - Hannibal's Wake

Weird Wars Rome at Bushy Run State Park

On Memorial Day we kicked off our #GetOutAndGame 2015 season at a local park here in Western Pennsylvania: Bushy Run State Park.  It was the perfect day!  The sky was blue, there was a light breeze, and the temperature was right around eighty degrees.  After exploring the trails and fields, the kiddos picked out a perfect "picnic" spot with plenty of shade.  But we weren't at Bushy Run State Park to eat…

… we were there to game!

If you haven't heard about #GetOutAndGame yet, it's a little tradition that we began early in 2014.  To celebrate this season we recently filmed a special edition of Living 4 Crits:

As I mention in the video, for our first #GetOutAndGame I wanted to play Savage Worlds: Weird Wars Rome.  In a previous blog post I discussed all of the reasons that you should try this fun, yet horrifically twisted historical RPG setting.  Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to return to Ancient Rome since last year.  Since my good friend and fellow savage Melinda (along with her son Tristan) was going to be joining in this #GetOutAndGame adventure, I thought it would be the perfect time to dive back into Weird Wars Rome.  About a year ago I ran a mini-campaign set during Caesar's Gallic Wars, and Melinda was one of my players.

I wrote Hannibal's Wake way back in 2013 when Weird Wars Rome had just finished its Kickstarter.  Rather than focusing on a unit of Roman Legionaries, the players in Hannibal's Wake are Celtic tribespeople trying to deal with the ordeal of the Carthaginian passage through the Alps.  The adventure involves the hypothetical cannibalism that some of the Carthaginian generals feared would be required to sustain such a large force passing through the Alps.  

Hannibal's Wake was greatly inspired by Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History" podcast series: Punic Nightmare.  I can't urge you enough to take a listen!  It'll be the best $4.99 you spend in a long, long time!

Our Players

  • Eppilla the Child of Teutates (Shapeshifter), played by Carrie
  • Viridovix the Druid, played by Evie
  • Duratios the Wolf-Blood Warrior (Berserker), played by Tristan
  • Gutuater the Gallic Scout, played by Melinda

Hannibal's Wake

Eppilla, Viridovix, Duratios, and Gutuater looked on in horror as their captors prepared a large bonfire in the middle of a guarded camp.  The four Celts, members of a scouting party sent by the Ceutrones tribe, were trapped in small wooden cages bound by leather straps. Before setting out on their reconnaissance, village whispers spoke of starving Carthaginian mercenaries taking part in cannibalism.  The sizes of the spits being erected by the Carthaginians mercenaries made the scouts believe the stories.  

Gutuater believed these specific mercenaries to be Iberian in origin, with a similar Celtic language to her own people.  As she listened in on the guards’ conversation, she came to the conclusion that dinner would certainly include at least one of the captives.  There was some fear in the voices of the guards, however, and they shared rumors of their own.  A similar troupe of mercenaries had eaten human flesh two nights earlier, with terrible consequences.  Anyone who had taken part in the ghastly feast found themselves transformed into a walking nightmare.   

It was still early in the afternoon, and most of the camp’s soldiers were in the forests looking for food.  Only twelve guards remained, two of which were tasked with watching over the four prisoners.  Not wanting to wait around and become dinner, Eppilla was the first to escape her bonds.  A Child of Teutates, the young Celt was blessed with a unique ability to shapechange into small animals.  In an instant her fellow party members saw Eppilla blink out of sight, and reappear as a small, brown rabbit.  The rabbit scampered off and waited by a nearby wooden fence.  

Gutuater quickly realized that she and her other companions lacked similar godly blessings and that subterfuge would be necessary to perform an escape.  Luckily the Gallic Scout had a sling tucked into her boot for just this sort of emergency.  Digging up three large rocks, Gutuater placed one in her sling, lifter her arm out of the cage.  She lobbed a stone against a wooden fence fifty feet away.  The loud thud got the attention of the two guards, who grabbed their spears and moved away to investigate.  Taking the opportunity to escape, Gutuater unraveled her leather bonds, and instructed Viridovix and Duratios to do the same.  The Gallic Scout and Druid both crawled out of their cages, and were nearly to the fence when they realized that Duratios was not about to flee without a fight.

A massive figure, clad in a heavy cloak of animal pelts, Duratios was a Wolf-Blood Warrior, and would never flee from the opportunity for an honorable battle.  Instead of untying the bonds, Duratios simply stood up in his cage, shattering wood and bone, ripping leather and rope.  With a mighty roar, the Wolf-Blood Warrior charged a guard nearly thirty feet away, with only his fists as weapons.

That was all he would need.  

A single punch from Duratios’ calloused fist left the Iberian guard dazed, while a second broke his skull.  Three more guards charged forward, as well as the two whose job it was to watch over the captives.  Gutuater took another sling stone and lobbed it at a guard, dropping him.  Not wanting to leave all of the fun to the berserker, the druid Viridovix produced a hidden antler blade and joined Duratios’ side.  

The guards were confident at first.  One grinned as he prepared to strike the unarmed Duratios.  “You have nothing!” the guard mocked, as he thrust his long spear point towards Duratios’ abdomen.  But the attack missed!  The guard’s target quickly parried the spear away.  Before the guard could retract his spear the Wolf-Blood Warrior yanked it away in a surprising reversal.

“I have your spear!” Duratios smiled.  Then, with a cold, maniacal laugh, the Wolf-Blood Warrior charged forward, skewering his opponent in a single strike.  

Eppilla didn’t want to be left out of the fray.  Despite her timid appearance, the young Celtic girl was still capable of defending her friends.  While still in rabbit form she jumped onto one of the nearby guards’ head, and quickly shapeshifted back to a human.  The weight of Eppilla pushing down on the helmet collapsed the brim, blinding her target.  

Gutuater continued to pepper the guards with stones, knocking another to the ground dead, while commanding her scouts to retreat to the fence.  The group moved with their Gallic Scout, until they reached the fence.  By this point the original six guards were dispatched, but another six on the opposite side of the encampment had taken notice to the escape. Gutuater was the first up the fence, aided by a nearby tree branch.  One by one the scout helped her fellow Celts over the fence.  

Hopefully the scouting party could reach their village before any of Carthage’s forces arrived looking for dinner.  

Stray Pictures

We had a lot of extra pictures following our game, so I thought I'd share them with my readers!  The best part about #GetOutAndGame is that so many memories are created outside of the game itself… it just becomes a perfect adventure!

Carrie takes a selfie near an old log cabin.

Tristan leads the way through one of the trails.

Blue skies, open fields!

Carrie makes camp.

I wonder if this ant wanted to plan.

Evie and I pose for a quick picture.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries has become a #GetOutAndGame tradition!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Under Strange Suns - Session 5 - a Sherlock Holmes/Dark Sun/Star Wars Campaign

Project GlueShankSplosion

Mutated cereal treats, KFC buckets labeled "Zoidberg", a planning whiteboard, and a game master with a nasty hamstring injury.  Last night's game had everything, and rightly so, as we were celebrating two special events: the last session of our "Under Strange Suns" adventure, and Emily moving away to Ohio…

… wait, that last one sucks!  

Actually its pretty great for Emily, as she's going to have an incredible new job, but for the rest of our little group, we'll be a bit sad.  We hope to keep our monthly team together by letting Emily Skype in, but with her departure slated for August, the clock is ticking.  So last night we went out with a bang…

… or should I say "GlueShankSplosion?"  

Agents of the Estate

  • Barbara "Babs" Goldstein, a Strange Paradox who … 
    • Works the System on Earth
    • Shepherds the Dead on Ardeyn
    • Casts Spells on Athas (Elven Preserver)
    • Works the System on Dantooine (Slicer)
    • and is played by Emily
  • Jacqueline Dingo, a Skeptical Spinner who … 
    • Solves Mysteries on Earth
    • Embraces Qephilim Ancestry on Ardeyn
    • Focuses Mind over Matter on Athas (Human Psionicist)
    • Throws Boulders on Dantooine (Wookie)
    • and is played by Jen
  • Arlo Coulton, a Graceful Vector who … 
    • Is Licensed to Carry on Earth
    • Carries a Quiver on Ardeyn
    • Fights Dirty on Athas (Mul Gladiator)
    • Infiltrates on Dantooine (Clawdite)
    • and is played by Jeremy
  • Chuck Lannigan, a Stealthy Spinner who … 
    • Operates Undercover on Earth
    • Channels Sinfire on Ardeyn, 
    • Crafts Powerful Poisons* on Athas (Half-Elf Bard)
    • Defies the Laws of Physics** on Dantooine (Jedi)
    • and is played by Andy
    • Dr. Sybil Holloway/Ka'cha Kano'kek, a Lucky Paradox who …
      • Conducts Weird Science on Earth
      • Embraces Qephilim Ancestry on Ardeyn
      • Hunts with Great Skill on Athas (Thri-Kreen Ranger)
      • Pilots Starcraft on Dantooine
      • and is played by Ethan 

    * Crafts Powerful Poisons is out of Ninth World Assassins by Metal Weave Games
    * Defies the Laws of Physics is out of The Translation Codex by Ryan Chaddock Games

    Our hostess (Jen) brings out two buckets of Zoidberg

    Adventure Summary

    Miss our last session?  Here's the report!

    Five brave agents of The Estate, having just witnessed the horror of Sherlock Holmes' murder, now stood face to face with the legendary assassin droid HK-47 and his six metal minions.  HK-47 leveled his heavy blaster rifle at Dr. Sybil and squeezed the trigger but missed.  The Lucky Paradox and Ace Pilot was a nimble woman, not about to lose her life on some video game recursion.  In a fit of rage, Babs let go of her beloved Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes' hand and charged HK-47.  But instead of striking the droid, the Strange Paradox tumbled to the side, and deftly plugged a cord from her datapad into its side.  HK-47 didn't notice at first, but quickly realized that his assailant was trying to slice his programming!  While the assassin droid struggled to pull the connection, four of his droid cohorts started peppering Babs with blaster fire.  Struck three times, the Paradox fell backwards into the garden, but still clung to her datapad.  

    The other two assassin droids also engaged the Estate agents, lobbing a pair of nauseating grenades at Arlo, Jackie, and Chuck.  The fumes were disgusting, reeking of old wet trash, but not debilitating enough to stop the trio from springing into action.  Chuck grabbed his force projection cypher and threw a twenty foot screen in front of the team.  Jackie Dingo, a Wookie on Dantooine, grabbed her partner Arlo Coulton and threw him a dozen feet into the air.  Landing atop a nearby wall, Arlo moved just past the force screen and readied his sniper blaster rifle.

    While HK-47 continued to struggle with the datapad cord, Babs completed her slice.  Accessing the assassin droid's motivators, Babs put it into sleep mode.

    "Bye bitch," Babs snapped as she winced, ready to get shot down by the remaining droids.  

    Enter Chuck Lannigan to the rescue!  

    The Stealthy Spinner used his ability to pass through walls and moved through the force screen, putting himself between the six droids and their target.  Noticing a pair of grenades on HK-47's hip, Chuck grabbed one and threw it at a cluster of the assassin droids.  Four of them were instantly covered in a terrible, corrosive gel that shorted circuits an dissolved armor.  From his perch, Arlo was ready to take a shot as well, launching a super-heated blaster bolt through one droid and into another.  Not to be outdone by her partners, Dr. Sybil used her "shatter" revision on two of the droids.  Lacking Force powers on Dantooine, the revision manifested as pointy words, causing the droids to topple over each other from the decimating banter!

    After a few more shots the remaining droids were destroyed.  

    Babs Goldstein immediately took to disassembling HK-47, and turned the droid's scrap into usable cyphers for the party.  A pair of blast cyphers, a strange manipulation beam, and a strength enhancer could possibly be useful.  

    After clearing up the mess in the garden, the Estate agents moved to the central chamber in the monastery, where Sherlock Holmes was performing his Force power experiments.  There was a midichlorian study, where Holmes was trying to imbue his own power with the life forces of other creatures.  At another table was a crude, yet functional attempt at creating a lightsaber.  But the most important artifact was a massive array that could move a massive object, like the Ebon Hawk, from Dantooine to another recursion.  Essentially this array created a similar effect as an Inapposite Gate, which meant that it was risky to use, and the transported object would quickly lose its power as the laws of the new recursion would take over.  

    But it would give the party a shot.  With the aid of a Force Ghost Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes, the two Paradox agents Dr. Sybil and Babs learned how to use both the array and the lightsaber.  Taking stock of the rest of their cyphers, the Estate Agents formulated a rather cunning plan and prepared for action.

    Here's a look at "Plan GlueShankSplosion":

    Once everyone was ready with their duties and roles in the upcoming operation, the Estate Agents formed a circle and had a bit of a "go sports team" moment.  

    The first step of the plan was simple: regain the Ebon Hawk.  This was the easiest part of the plan due to the nature of Dantooine.  All Babs had to do was translate the party back to Earth, and then translate immediately back to Dantooine.  Anyone translating to Dantooine appeared instantly within an orbiting Ebon Hawk.  Dr. Sybil grabbed the controls and landed the craft near the monastery, where the Inapposite Gate Generating Array was loaded.  Babs engaged the device, and with a shimmy and a shake the Ebon Hawk blinked out of existence on Dantooine…

    … and reappeared over the City-State of Tyr on Athas!  

    Noticing the strange, unidentified flying object hovering above their city, the people of Tyr started to scream in terror.  

    "The Dragon has come!" the guards shouted.  

    But the passengers on the Ebon Hawk paid no notice, as they were busy keeping their balance in a rapidly descending craft.  Although the Ebon Hawk remained intact as it traveled to Athas, the Estate Agents all translated from their "Star Wars" foci to their "Dark Sun" foci.  Dr. Sybil was now Ka'cha, and thri-kreen are not natural star fighter pilots.  The insectoid paradox tumbled backwards as the Ebon Hawk pitched up, forcing Jackie Dingo to grab the controls.  Once the craft was stabilized, Dr. Sybil used her "reach beyond" ability to remember how to fly a starship.  

    "Are we doing this?" Dr. Sybil/Ka'cha asked the rest of her team.  

    With a nod, both Arlo and Chuck readied their gear and used a Transvolution Ring to create a gate connecting the Ebon Hawk's interior to the Sorcerer-King's chambers.  The Vector and Spinner had sixty seconds before the gate would close forever!  Going into stealth mode, Arlo used is chameleon skin to carefully enter the meditation chamber of Sorcerer-King Sherlock Holmes (the Robert Downey Jr. version).  The man was sitting cross-legged on a raised platform, humming to himself as his large head pulsed with power.  Incredibly (Jeremy rolled a 20!), Arlo was not noticed as he moved towards Sorcerer-King Holmes.  Grabbing a very powerful, permanent glue cypher from his satchel, the mul gladiator threw it at the king, sealing him to the floor below!  

    Enraged that his meditation was disturbed, and furious that he couldn't move his legs, Sorcerer-King Holmes started to monologue…

    … but neither Chuck nor Arlo stayed to listen.  The pair of Estate Agents immediately turned and darted for the portal.  Thirty seconds to go!

    Even immobilized, Sorcerer-King Holmes was dangerous.  Using his incredible psychic powers, the king tried to enter Chuck Lannigan's mind.  In an amazing display of mental fortitude (I think Andy rolled a 20 here… there were at least five natural 20's rolled in the last half hour of the game), Chuck was able to force Sherlock Holmes from his thoughts an continue running.  Both Arlo and Chuck got through the portal just as it closed behind.

    So began the "Revenge of Babs".  

    From the fire-control station, Babs connected all of the Ebon Hawk's laser turrets and laser cannons.  The attorney screamed in rage as she directed thousands of blaster bolts into the palace of Tyr, destroying the structure, and causing it to collapse into the gardens below.  This was for her slain crodlu Zoidberg, and the love of her life, the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes.

    But Sorcerer-King Sherlock Holmes was not finished… not yet.  From the rubble of Tyr's noble quarter came a small explosion, as a flying, psychic, Robert Downey Jr. soared into the sky, with a pedestal still glued to his rear of course. Flying right in front of the Ebon Hawk, the king was prepared to unleash an onslaught of psychic flame.  

    But Babs was faster on the trigger! (Emily rolled a natural 20 on initiative…)

    Babs was also far more accurate than the Sorcerer-King expected!  (Emily rolled a natural 20 on her attack roll!)

    At least fifty blaster cannon bolts pierced the Sorcerer-King's hovering form, shattering bone and pedestal alike.  As Holmes fell to the ground, Babs continued to fire with the belly turret, just to make sure.  

    Dr. Sybil/Ka'cha reminded the team that their time was limited.  The Ebon Hawk was starting to shake, as the force of the battle was hastening the vessel's power loss.  Born of a recursion of mad science, the Ebon Hawk was out of place in a recursion of magic.  Setting the craft down in an open field, Dr. Sybil/Ka'cha pulled Babs from her chair and assembled the team for one final translation.  

    It was time to go back to Earth.

    *     *     *

    "I don't know how you all pulled this off," Director Katherine Manners told her team of Estate Agents during the debriefing.

    "We wrote it down," Jackie replied, pointing to the scrawled notes that Arlo took during the planning.  

    Arlo just smiled, leaned back in his chair, and shouted "It's a miracle!"

    Look out!  Here comes the white board and Andy's handwriting!

    Quotes from the Table

    "If you spend enough XP Benedict Cumberbatch may come back to life." - Jeremy giving Emily emotional support based on her pile of 10 experience points.

    Jim - "Are you going to spend all of your experience points on this?"
    Emily - "I'm going to blow ALL of my experience points on this." 

    "I'm gonna make it rain dirt!" - Jen makes a wookie noise, and starts throwing large potted plants at HK-47's droid assassin minions.  

    "What is this?  A Level 5 Manipu-bladder?" - Jen couldn't read my handwriting.

    "So the hardest part of this plan is getting that doohickey to work!" - Andy's character was not trained in doohickeys.

    "Can't you use your Force powers to talk to Force Ghost Benedict Cumberbatch?" - Jeremy had a pretty brilliant idea… actually he had several last night.

    "That seems like a lot of my death going on there…" - Andy didn't like any plans that involved his character playing a martyr.  

    "The entire plan was 'roll a 20!'" - Ethan was right, and it worked.  

    "For Zoidberg!" - Babs' war cry.  

    "Iron Man these!" - Dr. Sybil rolled down the window and talked crap to the dying Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes.  

    "When we translate, do we see the ghosts of Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch smiling at us?" - Yes you do, Jeremy.  Yes you do.

    Zoidberg the Crodlu will forever hang on Emily's wall

    Our Adventure Log

    Want to catch up on all of the adventures of Babs, Chuck, Arlo, Dr. Sybil, and Jackie?  Here's our full list of adventures in The Strange!